One of the many advantages that we enjoy as digital marketers is the ability to attribute results to specific campaigns and channels. This isn’t something that happens automatically as some may believe, but is a result a well-planned implementation on our parts. But, we haven’t been able to do it without development support until relatively recently.
In the past, webmasters had to be directly involved in implementing the tracking codes—or pixels, as they’re commonly called—required to ensure that attribution is occurring properly. Thanks to tag management systems, those days are gone. After reading this post, you might have to make one more request for code implementation to your webmaster in order to get your tag manager implemented, but after that you’ll be able to take care of the rest.
What’s a Tag?
Simply put, a tag is a piece of code that fires when certain conditions, called triggers, are met. The system is based on a series of “if, then” conditions.
One basic example might be: if any page on the site loads (the trigger), then send a pageview to Google Analytics (the tag). It’s that simple.
There are more complex tags and triggers, like the ones you may use to track microconversions or abandonment. You can also use them to track button presses, form fills, clicks on certain elements, or on DOM load. Neat. Also a topic for a later post.
Why Should You Care About Tag Management?
As a digital marketer, you may not always be able to get clients to make the kinds of changes to the site you’ve relied on in the past to measure success. Gone are the days of asking your client to set up a thank-you page so you can set up a destination-based URL goal in Google Analytics. You can install the trigger yourself. Literally: TAG! You’re it.
This makes you agile. As you’re setting up advertising campaigns, you can install and test the conversion code without wasting time or money. You can test and configure the triggers and tags yourself, explore them in the Tag Manager preview environment, and push them live with a single click. Also, if you fuck it up—and you will, we all do—you can revert to a previous version while you troubleshoot.
Where to Learn About Tag Management
Unless you have some kind of budget to put against tag management software, Google Tag Manager is probably going to be your product of choice. As with most G-suite products, they have a pretty amazing Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course under as part of Analytics Academy.
At the very least, you should watch their intro video and decide if this is something you’d like to learn more about and implement:
The course is pretty short, but very comprehensive. You can also learn a lot by setting up a sandbox to play with.
If you’re a single-person marketing team and are focused on managing multiple digital marketing channels, consider investing some time into learning about tag management. You’ll save yourself (and your company) a ton of time. If you’re having a hard time selling it to the boss, I’ll leave you with this: an experienced web developer earns around $50/hr, while a digital marketing manager earns around $35/hr.
Look at you, all concerned about the bottom line.